It's been almost three weeks since a powerful earthquake struck Haiti, leading to the deaths of over 150,000 people, leaving hundreds of thousands more injured, homeless or without access to the necessities of life.
Despite the various crises affecting the news media, the response has been immense, especially in Montreal, which has a large Haitian community. The major newspaper chains have sent reporters and photographers (and have now sent relief crews to replace those they originally sent), the TV networks have sent correspondents, almost every TV network in Quebec, Canada and the United States has aired a fundraiser for relief efforts, and Haiti coverage continues to dominate the news here. The question of whether it's being covered too much was raised over a week ago.
I admit I was a bit surprised by all this attention. I expected major news organizations to send reporters, but not papers like The Gazette, the Journal de Québec or the Toronto Star. After all, it's not cheap.
But as grateful as I am for all the attention, I've started to zone out with the Haiti coverage. Yes, there are lots of orphans, people are desperate, lots of people died. The anecdotes being told by the reporters are touching, but they kind of blend in after the 100th story or so.
Still, even more than two weeks later, there are still some stories worth reading. Here's a few that have been recommended to me through social media:
- Sue Montgomery, who left for Haiti shortly after the earthquake for The Gazette, writes about the experience of rushing to a disaster area on short notice. A lot of it is inside journalistic baseball (which makes it perfect for this blog's readers), but it's interesting to read just for the little anecdotes, like running outside half-naked during an aftershock, or paying $6,900 for a helicopter ride from the Dominican Republic.
- Phil Carpenter, the photographer who was sent with Montgomery, also writes about the experience for J-Source.
- Montgomery, in turn, recommends this piece by Peggy Curran, about the political history of Haiti and how much of a mess the country was in long before the earthquake hit. It's a good picture of what happened to this country from the time it was discovered by Christopher Columbus to the reign of the Duvaliers.
- Patrick Lagacé is tired of the bullshit going on in Haiti, from all parties involved. About how Haitians still believe in their country, despite the absolute mess it's in. About how passive they are. About how the international community still clings to the idea that Haiti has some sort of government.
- In the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof isn't anywhere near Haiti. Instead, he's in Congo, where millions have died and gangs of thugs go around killing and raping people, and no one seems to care. He just wishes we paid as much attention to the non-natural disaster there as we did to the earthquake. (He has more on his blog.)